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The ‘Jon Brion Show’ circa 1999 or 2000 and Directed Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master, There Will be Blood, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch Drunk Love), was an informal VH1 variety show that would have starred Jon Brion with various musical collaborators known around the LA club, Largo at the time.  The pilot’s featured guest is none other than late singer-songwriter, Elliott Smith.  Accompanied by Brion (known for his work with Fiona Apple, Kanye West, and others) and jazz pianist Brad Mehldau, Smith sings iconic songs, “Son of Sam,” “Independence Day,” “Bottle Up and Explode,” “Everything Means Nothing to Me,” and “Happiness,” along with covers of The Kinks‘ “Waterloo Sunset,” John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy,” and Big Star’s “Nightime.”  They also perform Brion’s own, “Trouble,” and he closes out the set with a “classical” improvisation of The Hollies‘ “Bus Stop”.

The show is intimate and playful, and although Smith and Brion’s stage presences are vastly different they compliment one another – Brion’s ease offsetting Smith’s self-consciousness – producing a melancholic, yet richly mellifluous performance that leaves your heart aching as it did the first time you heard Smith’s sad and fatalistic songs.

Watch the 43-minute program below.


SO Note: Tweet us your thoughts on the footage @Serial_Optimist.